Church targets Bendigo

BENDIGO is the first area of regional Victoria to be targeted by the Church of Scientology for programs to coincide with the opening of its new Melbourne headquarters.The controversial church has used print and television advertising to increase awareness of its programs in the past month and will start operating in the region within weeks.“We’ve got a few different projects happening, and Bendigo is the first country area that’s been chosen,” Melbourne Church of Scientology public relations manager Pauline Priest said.“We’ll be going to Bendigo in the next few weeks.”The church will exhibit at the Bendigo Agricultural Show starting on October 23.The new Melbourne church is expected to be completed early next year.Bendigo scientologist Merv Nash said the religion was gaining popularity in the area.He declined to comment on the number of local scientologists.“It’s on a growth curve, it has been for some time, but it’s really gathering momentum now,” Mr Nash said.“If they open up shop here there’ll be a lot more (local scientologists) because for the person that is ready for it, scientology is the most wonderful thing they will ever discover.”Mr Nash, who has been a scientologist for almost 50 years, said he did not expect the church to meet any opposition from Bendigo residents.A group calling themselves Anonymous protested against the church worldwide early last year, and the Scientology-founded Citizens Committee on Human Rights has recently come under fire for sending a radical anti-psychotropic drug DVD to Australian health professionals.“It won’t meet opposition from the people that discover it for what it is,” Mr Nash said.“Everybody has a different viewpoint on things; sometimes it’s not based on anything that’s very rational.“But somebody has to be pretty far gone if they haven’t wondered who they are and where they come from and where they’re going.“Scientology answers those questions.”Scientology was founded by renowned science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s.According to the scientology website, scientology “is the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life”.

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